Kristy is a client that portrays very accurately the degree to which she felt broken, depressed, worthless. She had debilitating anxiety and was extremely sensitive and fearful of any perceived disapproval of her by others and magnified it to the point that she felt others saw her as worthless and inferior too.
Please listen to her story:
It’s never too late..
I am a person who has struggled with debilitating anxiety and depression for as long as I can ever remember. I never was able to see myself as a person of any value and could only define any success in my life by an accomplishment, or a compliment from someone else. My feeling of value was always short lived because it was always dependent on me doing something very well, or on the opinion of someone else. In and of myself, I felt completely worthless. By the time I was an adult I was essentially terrified of my own shadow and had put up so many walls to protect me from the big, scary, and overwhelming world out there that I practically lived in isolation. Over the last few years things had gotten worse to the point that I was so anxious I was crying almost every day, and there were days I cried almost the entire day. I was terrified of flying and had not driven in almost 10 years. I was negative and expected the worst outcome in almost every situation. I just felt so broken and damaged beyond repair and that for some reason it was my fault. I had horrible self-esteem and lived a fog of hopelessness.
I didnʼt think it was possible, but by the beginning of 2015 things were even worse. We had a major reorganization where I worked. I ended up being put on a team with a terrible manager who was completely unsupportive and had no idea at all how to manage. The job itself was very stressful, I wasnʼt very good at it, and I very quickly became very burned out. I would sit at my desk so anxious and nervous that I could barely do my work. Most days I cried. I was terrified of getting fired and was completely miserable. I reached a point that I was so depressed I could barely function.
One day I thought I found a small light at the end of the tunnel. A friend at my company who worked on another team with a great manager told me she was pregnant and not coming back after her maternity leave. I thought her job would be a good fit for me. I knew her manager and was pretty sure if I applied I would get hired. I thought if I could just hold on for another 5 or 6 months maybe at least some of my problems would be solved. It turned out I could not hold on. I was in too dark of a place. It was all I could do to get up and get dressed and sit at my desk at work. There was no joy or happiness at all in my life.
I had always been very afraid of taking medication for my problem, and was so embarrassed about how helpless and broken I was I had never been able to reach out for help. Finally I got to such a scary point I knew I could not go on without doing something. I decided maybe if I could find some kind of herbal supplement or something for depression that might not be so bad and I might give it a try. When I Googled it an ad for Dr. Pravel came up. The first thing I noticed was his approach to not introduce medication unless absolutely necessary, and also that phone sessions were available which was great since I didnʼt drive. I checked out his website which had tons of good information and I decided to make an appointment. We had several sessions over the next few months, but finally reached a point where Dr. Pravel said he could not help me without medication and asked me to get on an antidepressant. At first I was very resistant, but he said it was too unhealthy for me to go on like this and that the CBT work we were trying to do was not helping because of how depressed I was. He reassured me that a health care professional would not ask me to do anything that would harm me so I trusted him and started taking Lexapro. I could feel a difference almost immediately. When I went to work I was able to focus and I was not as depressed and scared in general.
At the beginning of 2016 my work friend gave notice she was not coming back from leave and her job was posted. I went through three rounds of interviews and was hired! I was so happy. I continued to work with Dr. P and we did a lot of work on why I had the issues with anxiety in the first place and I got to a much healthier place. I thought all my problems were over. I had the job I wanted, a great boss, I liked the work, things were great with my husband, I was interacting with friends and coworkers, and started to get much closer to my husbandʼs family (I have been estranged from my own for almost 10 years).
One of my first tasks in the new job was to launch a major retail client and I was so ready. I really felt the there was nothing I couldnʼt do and could not wait to jump into the project and make it a success. I was able to travel with ease and flew to Orlando, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Things went great for the first month or two and I was so proud of how far I had come. It was almost like I was a brand new person.
Then all of a sudden things started going wrong with the launch through no fault of mine or my company. Things started getting very stressful and all eyes were on the project. In addition, there was a lot of work to do with some of my existing clients. I was working like crazy but couldnʼt keep up and was getting very overwhelmed. Of course being new to the position I was really anxious to make a good impression but since I was doing a lot of learning on the go I was making some mistakes. And due to the crazy time constraints I was continually missing deadlines. I continued to work with Dr. Pravel through all of this and he would remind me that no one in my position could be handling things any better than I was. I could hear his words and understand them, but for some unknown reason I did not accept them. I went right back to beating myself up and seeing everything that went wrong as a personal failure. I felt like I was constantly getting “yelled at.” Even when Dr. Pravel would say no one is yelling at you, people are raising their voices because they are stressed and upset with the situation, I could understand it but again was not able to truly accept it. I was not happy and the worst part was that I now knew there was such a thing as being happy and it could actually happen to me. But somehow after all the work Dr. Pravel did to “fix” me, I broke myself again.
Finally around August work began to subside a bit. The launch was mostly complete. Although there continued to be a lot for me to do it was much more manageable. I was able to do more than just work 24/7. You would think that would make things better but it didnʼt. I couldnʼt figure out what was wrong and was still feeling very “stuck.” I had a kind of strange appointment with Dr. Pravel in which I came out of it thinking I had talked to him about possibly trying something different and he understood me to be saying I was done with therapy. I cancelled my next appointment planning on keeping the one I had scheduled for a few weeks later. When I got there Dr. Pravel was not there. When I was able to connect with him he explained that he understood me to be done with therapy all together and was actually out of town but could see me when he got back. I had a complete meltdown and cried for two days straight. And then I beat myself up for ruining a whole weekend.
By Monday I knew I had to do something. I had to travel for work the week Dr. Pravel came back so it would be two more weeks until I could see him and another crazy project came up at work that was really getting me stressed out. I decided to see another doctor and in the meantime I had two weeks to decide what to do long term. I was able to see someone right away. I explained that I had another doctor who was out of town and really just needed someone to talk and cry to for about an hour. I talked to her about what had been going on in my life and she just listened. When we were all done I asked her if she had any advice for me and she said, “I can tell you have a really good doctor. He has you in a very healthy place. Whatever confusion took place with the appointments, I would get back to see him as soon as you are able.” I will never forget her words.
I immediately felt better as I tend to do after therapy, and I made another appointment with Dr. Pravel. It took me a few days but I really started to think about what the other doctor said and I started asking myself if I was in such a healthy place, why was I feeling so bad? Why did I not feel the way I did at the beginning 2016? So I started testing it out. I asked myself at that moment what was I anxious or depressed about and then how would a healthy person feel. Of course it was an issue at work, and I said a healthy person would probably be kind of irritated over this because what is happening is very dysfunctional. And I realized I really was only irritated, not anxious or depressed. And just because the situation was dysfunctional, that did not make me dysfunctional. I spent the rest of the day consciously going through that exercise every time I felt myself starting to get “depressed.” The more I did this the more I realized that the negative emotions I was feeling were just healthy emotions that someone would or should feel. I found that I was irritated, annoyed, or ticked. But I certainly was not depressed. And when I realized I was feeling healthy negative emotions they seemed to pass much more quickly. I could finally see that it was me who was making these issues and problems much more scary, daunting, and overwhelming than they really were. And also that clinging to them as I had done in the past made them stick around longer.
I was very excited to see Dr. Pravel again and tell him about my breakthrough. And then even before I saw him again I had another breakthrough. I realized that never before in my life had I actually felt a true range of emotions. Very seldom I felt good, but most often I felt bad. I also realized most importantly that the reason I had so much trouble with all of the work issues earlier in the year was that as soon as things stopped being perfect, I immediately assumed I was depressed again because that seemed like all I had ever known. Even though we had talked about different emotions many times, somehow things did not click until I actually began to examine them and learn to feel them in different situations. I came to realize and accept them as healthy on nothing of which to be afraid. Once I saw they were not a sign of me going back into the cycle of anxiety and depression, they began to lose their power over me. So many of the things Dr. Pravel and I had been talking about I now understood with such clarity. After our session I made another appointment, but made it 5 weeks out instead a two. I felt like a kid with a new toy on Christmas morning and want to get out there and try it out.
By the time we met again, I had gotten a car and started driving. For the first time in my life I felt like the amazing, healthy, practically fearless person I had never had the strength to be. In our last meeting I shared all of the things I want to accomplish in 2017. It had never occurred to me to do something like that before. But knowing how capable I after all I accomplished in 2016, and now that I have so much more time free from worry and anxiety, I really want to start living! I told Dr. Pravel I wanted to do something to give back and contribute in some way to those who may be in the mental state I had been in for so many years. He suggested I tell my story for his website. I was so honored and happy. I really related to his clientsʼ testimonials and they were of great help to me. I never thought it could happen to me, but I now know that happiness is not only possible, for me it is my reality. I am continuing to work with Dr. Pravel and am so looking forward to all that the future brings. Based on all he has taught me I now live basically free of tears, depression, and anxiety.
Exploring her history and early life experiences and a part of Insight Therapy clarified why she felt as she did. Her mother was harsh, critical and unaffectionate with her and was often very hostile with her. Her father was an alcoholic who was emotionally detached, unloving, unaffectionate and often unemployed. Kristy was the second of 3 children, was the “good child” as didnʼt get in trouble, did well in school, worked and saved her money. Her 2 siblings were difficult, troubled and did poorly in most areas. Herdysfunctional family made her feel inferior compared to others. And despite her efforts she was not able to win parental love, approval and affection that rightfully should have been hers. The failure was the parents, not hers. But children canʼt see things that way – they blame themselves – she felt unworthy of such nurturance. Our childhood perceptions, defense mechanisms and cognitive distortions can become lifelong and often times will if the person does not engage in therapy to identify and modify them. Kristy was able to engage in that therapeutic process to update her self image, recognize the effect of her dysfunction family history and improve her emotional and behavioral health. She is now equipped to deal with the ups and downs of life with emotional resilience without catastrophizing and shame, and can experience joy over the positives and successes in her life.
I am so happy for you Kristy.